This is the ninth episode of, ‘This Week In Organic’, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news.
In this episode, among other things we talk about Might Panda 4.2 impact your site? Is the Apple Watch a content marketing opportunity? And is live event ad targeting going to be the saviour of Twitter advertising? Our host, David Bain is joined by Gianluca Fiorelli from iLoveSEO.net, Greg Gifford from DealerOn, Joy Hawkins from Imprezzio Marketing, Mark Asquith from DMSQD and Michael King from iPullRank.com.
DAVID BAIN: Might Panda 4.2 impact your site? Is the Apple watch a content marketing opportunity? And is live event ad-targeting going to be the saviour of Twitter advertising?
Broadcasting live from London, welcome to This Week in Organic, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign up to watch the next show live at www.thisweekinorganic.com.
Hello and welcome. I’m David Bain and each week I’ll be joined by some knowledgeable, opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. And as far as you, dear viewer, get involved. We’d love to hear year opinion too. Just use the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter. And if you’re watching live, your thoughts will magically appear in the chat-box to your right-hand side.
So let’s find out more about today’s guests, where they’re from and what’s caught their attention this week. So starting off with Gianluca.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Hi, I’m Gianluca Fiorelli. As you can see, I’m a freelance consultant. That is my site. And I live in Valencia in Spain. So obviously Panda is a really, really slow rollout. Panda 4.2 is getting in the news this week. On the other hand, on other things, well I don’t know, still a little bit getting away from Seattle so recovering and haven’t had chance to read much news this week. And Panda 4.2. It’s really the news of the week.
DAVID BAIN: Just keep on drinking your coffee, Gianluca, and you’ll be fine. And moving onto Greg.
GREG GIFFORD: Hey, I’m Greg Gifford. I work for a company called DealerOn. We do auto dealer websites all over the place and I run the SEO department. I also do a lot of freelance stuff. I tend to work with a lot of lawyers and doctors for some reason and I speak a lot and I live and breathe local SEO.
DAVID BAIN: Great stuff. And Joy. Let’s say hello to you.
JOY HAWKINS: Hi, I’m Joy Hawkins and like Greg I’m also big into local SEO. I work for a company called Imprezzio Marketing, based in Toronto, Canada, and I’m also a part of Google’s top contributor programme for the Google My Business Forum.
DAVID BAIN: Great stuff. Okay. And let’s say hello to Mark next.
MARK ASQUITH: Hi David. Yeah, I’m Mark Asquith from DMSQD. We’re a design and digital agency in the north of the UK and I also run the excellent Expected podcast, which is in helping small business owners. And the thing that I’m really curious about this week is twofold – one the Apple watch and two the woes of Twitter.
DAVID BAIN: The woes of Twitter. And last but not least we’ve got Michael.
MICHAEL KING: Hey, I’m Mike King. I’m the founder at digital marketing consultant ad agency called iPullRank. We focus on content strategy, audience research, SEO, social media marketing, marketing automation and also predicted analytics. And what I’m really interested in this week is Panda 4.2 more or less because I don’t care about it so much, and also where Twitter’s heading. So yeah.
DAVID BAIN: Because you don’t care about it. That’s interesting. So Gianluca mentioned that as well. So that’s the first subject we’re looking at. So Panda 4.2 has been released. Panda of course is a Google filter that’s designed to weed out low quality content but might you site be affected or do you actually care? So Gianluca, you were the first to mention that there. What’s you opinion of what’s going on in Panda 4.2?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: My opinion is that it’s too early to have an opinion actually! For several reasons. I’m used to waiting until maybe another is released to let the dust go down and see with data what’s really happening. The second reason is this update has been announced to be an unusually slow update. It was announced that it will be rolling out for months, which is I think in order to understand a site as we need, or it’s recalling from previous Panda. Even if I’m starting to see many reports about everything we know about Panda 4.2, I think we don’t know everything so I don’t know how these posts can be written.
Certainly if I rely on other Panda updates, I don’t see anything changing, at least with my clients, which is a great thing. And personally I’m interested in how Google is dealing with this broadening out of an update.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, Google have changed the way that they’ve rolled things out and announced things obviously as well, so that is a significant change to what they’re done in the past. Greg, Panda updates in the past have been just every few months or so. It’s been eight or nine months since there’s been one. Have past updates been a concern for you?
GREG GIFFORD: Well, since all the people I work with have super-awesome content on their sites, it’s never been an issue for me! So really, for all the guys that I work with, which is mostly car dealers, it really hasn’t ever been an issue for us. It’s never been anything that ever had an effect. I mean, yeah we were worried about it, ‘Oh my gosh, this update’s coming out,’ but I guess I’ve been lucky. I’ve never really had to deal with any sort of problems from it.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, if you’re a real business that produces lots of content then there’s little chance, I reckon, of Panda having a significant impact. It’s only spammers who produce pages that may be based upon other content out there or very low in terms of content. Joy, what kind of opinion have you got about Panda?
JOY HAWKINS: It hasn’t honestly impacted on any of my clients ‘cause they’re all local businesses and what I’ve seen from the local SEO community is that it’s more impacted more of the national sites than the kind of level of businesses that I work with.
DAVID BAIN: Mark, surely you must be the one among s that has produced lots of low quality spamming sites!
MARK ASQUITH: I’m not even allowed anywhere near Google anymore – they have little guards that patrol just for me, which is weird! What? This is a beard thing, isn’t it? This is beard-ist! No, to be honest, much like Joy, we work primarily with very local SEO and we haven’t seen anything for a while in terms of Panda. We do focus on good quality content for our clients and we kind of advocate that they write decent stuff as well so we’ve not seen too much, to be honest.
DAVID BAIN: Maybe turning the question around slightly actually to say if you talked to someone who reckons they have had issues with decreased ranking because of being tracked in a Panda filter, what kind of advice would you offer them to actually recover the next time that Panda came around?
MICHAEL KING: Well we can do it that way or I can just give you examples that have actually been hit by Panda.
DAVID BAIN: Go for it, yeah.
MICHAEL KING: Thus far in this iteration nobody’s been hit on our client roster and I agree with Gianluca wholeheartedly that it’s too early to really tell. The other thing is that as an industry SEO falls into this trap of wanting to be first with everything. I guess that’s fundamental because our job is to be first. But everybody wants to be ‘The Guide to Panda 4.2’ Like, how do you know? So I’ve worked with brands that have been hit by Panda since the first Panda roll-out. Back in 2011 when it first came out, I was working on LG and LG got murdered by it because all their sites were on subdirectories rather than subdomains or country-level TLDs. And so some of those countries were going to release stuff whereas the US wasn’t and then the whole thing just got murdered.
Another example more recently, and again not Panda 4.2 but I had about six months ago we were working with a lawyer who focuses on national level stuff and we did a content audit for him, well before a Panda update was scheduled to roll out. We were like, ‘These things you should consider, then content,’ and we came up with an idea of how to make it more interesting content. He was like, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s fine, we won’t worry about it, it’s worked.’ And then Panda came and he was like, ‘What? This is crazy! I can’t believe I got hit!’
So what I would say is the first thing you want to do… And I can’t remember who wrote this but somebody has written a post that like specifically a surge in traffic for pages that get hit by Panda, like right before they get hit by Panda. So the thinking behind it is that Google is trying to run a test on that content to see whether or not it’s actually sticking to people. So they might give it like a little extra boost in rankings and then more people end up hitting it and then they realise that people are pogo-sticking off of that content. So that might be one of the signals that you might want to look at.
So looking at your content for that surge in traffic from organic immediately before the Panda roll-out is one way to make a determination of which pages matter the most.
And in the short-term what you want to do is just no-index those pages, and then the pages that you know are still good pages, let those stay in there. And then you may want to just remove those pages that were bad in the index so that you can actually update those pages and then resubmit those pages to your site map or fetches Google or whatever, and then you tend to pop back a little quicker than waiting for the next Panda update.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, that’s interesting. A lot of great tips there actually. You mentioned LG there. Do you know if they were actually using hreflang and canonical tags correctly?
MICHAEL KING: Yeah, this was 2011. Like, people weren’t really thinking about hreflang like that at that point. I also think hreflang wasn’t a thing then. I’m not sure. Gianluca knows better than me.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: No, it was already here, it was my first year it was presented.
MICHAEL KING: Okay, so they weren’t using it at that point.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: In the beginning, the relationship between rel canonical and hreflang was really confused. Also thanks to Google. It was really embarrassing.
MICHAEL KING: Yeah, so they definitely weren’t using it.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Another thing that you can do is looking at your logs. If you see a spike in the Googlebot activity, usually it’s not really a nice thing to see because it’s as if Google is testing and crawling on your site more than usual in order to test it against an algorithm. And yes, this is a classic in Panda. Whenever you see a huge spike in a Googlebot activity, usually you see the site starting to lose organic visibility because of something like that. So if you see this sort of hint from your logs, then go back and crawl your site, check out for everything like duplicate / thin content and also other factors which are…I don’t know…a huge, huge side show giving the content below the fold, which is another factor for Panda.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. That’s a great tip as well because you’re looking for indication to see what the issue is and if people can define what the issue may be, if it’s bound up with something else, then they’re more likely to be able to fix it, obviously.
Okay, great. We’re going to go onto our second topic, which is are you thinking of buying a new .brand or a .tech domain? According to Google, that’s fine from a domain authority perspective, but buying a non .com domain might be a good idea or it could actually be risky playing, depending on what Google could do or other people could do in the future. So Gianluca, you’re the only guy with a .net among us…
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Yes. And it works!
DAVID BAIN: Yes. If that wasn’t available, would you be persuaded us to go with one of the new tlds?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Well actually I have some maybe strange Google domain names with the new tlds! I usually them for experimental gaming.
Regarding new tlds, I think it can work. They’re no different from any other. It can be risky because also my company really in the beginning were working and then where they were abused by spammers so Google substantially demoted the value of them. So it’s a risk.
And sure it can be interesting for…I don’t know, maybe if Greg or Joy can have a voice here because there are also tlds like ‘Chicago’ with city names.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: I don’t know if this can be the future as a local signal.
DAVID BAIN: You would think in the future – the post by Google says that they’re not using local signals to assume that that domain or .london or something like that is going to be from that particular area but you never know, of course, what the future will hold.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Yes. I don’t know. It depends because it’s like…I don’t think that let’s say nationwide websites are going to use something like .london, I think it’s let’s say gianluca.valencia could be an idea. But nco.valencia surely indicates a local return. I don’t know. Maybe in the future it could be that kind of tld could be interesting. All the others are really fancy domain names as well. We know people moved to .marketing and it’s working. So we can see a proof there.
DAVID BAIN: So Joy, you mentioned that you focus quite a lot on local SEO. Would you advise a client to actually go for a local domain name if one became available that was quite appealing?
JOY HAWKINS: I doubt it. I rarely suggest businesses change their domain names ‘cause it usually has a negative impact. If it was like a new business that was starting out and there were no good .com names available I might suggest it but the reason why I stick kind of with .com is it’s what customers remember and a lot of people that aren’t kind of familiar with the online world too much aren’t going to understand the new tlds at all. They’re still going to probably try and add a .com and it’ll just get them an error. So at this point I’d say it’s not well known enough to use. So that’s why I would recommend against it.
DAVID BAIN: Mike, I see you nodding your head away there. You agree with that?
MICHAEL KING: Yeah absolutely. I think it’s more a question of a branding thing than anything else. I see domains, these new tlds, like for example I know angular.agency or something like that, whenever I see one of those I just don’t believe it’s real. So if I’m having this trouble with it, I’m not sure, like Joy is saying, that the standard regular person using the internet is going to be like, ‘Wait, how do I even get to that?’
So I see it from more of a branding standpoint. I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not these things can rank. You know, you point enough links at anything it’s going to rank, but I think from people remembering something, it’s better for it to be a .com or a .net or a .org or one of the handful of ones that we’re all used to.
DAVID BAIN: I remember about nine years ago I had a website which was a .biz and it ranked fairly well at the time but I can’t remember the last time I saw a .biz in search results, of course. Greg, what are your thoughts on this one?
GREG GIFFORD: Well personally I just thought greggiffordis.awesome and we’ll see what happens with that! No, I pretty much back up the same thing that Joy and Mike were saying. Every time I talk to somebody that’s trying to consider what to get, we always say, ‘Go with .com.’ I’ve had so many horror stories of dealerships I’ve worked with where they’ve picked the same name as someone else and they want to have that as their domain and they’re in Texas and the other guy’s in Colorado and they get to go with the .net instead and then they get so frustrated because their customers can’t find them. Because like Mike said, everybody’s just engrained in their net usage to go and put .com after everything and no matter how hard you brand yourself, you’re still going to have to always fight the fact that you’re going to be losing traffic to whoever has the .com version of the name.
DAVID BAIN: And Mark, you’ve also got a .com. You run an agency, DMSQD, but are most of your clients in the UK and if so, why didn’t you decide to go for the .co.uk?
MARK ASQUITH: That’s a good question there David and I do completely echo the sentiments of the other guys about the brand side of things and I think that’s essentially why we went for the .com because it feels – even though it’s kind of a ridiculous notion – it feels much more legitimate. You know, when I see the new tlds, I can’t help but think they just feel cheap. They just feel gimmicky. And I always personally believe, and again it’s complete opinion, that if you’ve got the .com it just feels more legitimate. So that’s we went with it and that’s why a lot of the clients go with it as well.
As everyone really said, I think if you point enough links to something it’s going to rank. That is always going to be the case and I don’t know if there’s enough out there to understand what the top-level domain situation will be.
Just looking back to the .co scenario, I know a lot of clients of ours, when they couldn’t get the .com went for the .co and man, they really struggled, because they were telling people it was xyz.co and people were saying, ‘.co what? .com?’ You know, it’s a really pain and I just think .tech, .agency, it’s all a little bit gimmicky for me. So yeah, legitimacy comes with a .com, I think.
DAVID BAIN: Good point and you’ve also got to go with your heart as well, your instincts, because even though someone tells you technically there’s no difference there and you should be able to rank just as well, it’s about branding and it’s about long-term as well and what is likely to happen.
But let’s move onto our next topic. So one other thing that Google have launched is their ‘we know where you have been’ service. No, wait a minute! It’s actually called ‘revisiting the world you’ve explored’! So Joy, are you happy with Google following you around?
JOY HAWKINS: Well they’ve already been doing it, which is like us being more uptight about it now. I personally kind of like it because I can go back and find places that I’d kind of forgotten about. Actually if you view it on a computer I think it’s more useful than the mobile version ‘cause it overlays this massive map which shows all the different places you’ve ever been. Which is kind of cool. The only thing is for me, it doesn’t list any places I’ve been in the US because I never had my data turned on. So that was not so useful. The only places it really listed were airports ‘cause I guess I was connected to their Wifi. But I think it’s really neat for local businesses for sharing, for people to recommend them more and say, ‘Oh, there’s this place I attended this one time a long time ago and I can’t remember what it was,’ well now you actually have a place where you can go to look at that. So I thought that was kind of neat.
DAVID BAIN: So Greg, what side of the fence do you lie on? Would you say that it’s a useful, great service or are you a little bit cynical in thinking, ‘They’re following me around enough, that’s probably enough’?
GREG GIFFORD: I’m really an outlier when it comes to this stuff and when people get all conspiracy theory and big brother and freaked out and they don’t want Google following them around but for me I prefer that Google follows me around and knows where I go and what I do because then the experience that I get from the ads and the things that I see on Google are going to be really specifically tailored to me and what I do and what I have done in the past. So it makes Google a better experience for me. So call me crazy for not caring if they’re following me around but if it’s going to improve my experience, why not let them?
DAVID BAIN: Gianluca, do you agree? Are you happy for Google to have as much information as possible to improve your personal experience with them?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Well it’s not really something…I remember on Google Maps, you know, Google was giving you your Google Map history. Already Google were there years ago. What is sure is that some bank robbers must know with a Nokia. I cannot do anything. This is a classic. As a marketer I think it’s wonderful because we can also work on our optimising for personalised search. So in order to be always visible just because someone has entered our shop or enters as a link on our website, this is fantastic. As a user maybe my biggest fear, which is somehow related to how Facebook and Twitter are analysing things, is to be close into my bubble and not see anything that is coming from outside my bubble. To suggest something from my informational bubble. This is my only worry and issue about all this personalisation thing.
DAVID BAIN: What about you, Mark? Are you happy for Google to recommend that you go back to a previous barber, for example?
MARK ASQUITH: That’s a low blow, man!
MICHAEL KING: That was awesome.
MARK ASQUITH: I’m gone. I’m done. I think it’s a great idea. I think for marketers it’s amazing. It’s something that, as Gianluca said, it’s not anything new but I think when you compare it…at the ground level when you’re taking about Facebook advertising and the way that they’ve got their data and the way you can target things so thoroughly, you know, when you consider this offer from Google which has just been effectively repackaged, I think it becomes something really, really interesting. As Joy said about the local scene, I think there’s a heck of a lot in that.
On the flip side of that as a consumer, it kind of does freak me out, but then we know it’s been happening – they’ve just told us about it now. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me but the marketer in me, yeah, I like it. As Greg said, the experience is better. We are going to have everything connected. You know, we’re going to talk about the Apple watch later. The more we can do to make everything seamless, from a tech perspective and a marketing perspective, the better. So yeah, as a marketer, thumbs up.
DAVID BAIN: So Mike, do you ever see yourself turning off your device because you don’t want Google to be tracking you or are you not really concerned about things like that?
MICHAEL KING: No, I think this is the future. Everything that we’re discussing in this line of thought is the future. I think that Google now is the first iteration of this personal concierge and I think it’s going to evolve in such a way that they’re going to make suggestions of things that you might think of searching before you think about searching it. Like to the idea of going back to that barber that you were interested in. For example, if you search for a pair of sneakers and you put it in your cart and you forget about it, but Google knows that you’re walking past a store that has those sneakers. I see Google now as saying, ‘Oh, those sneakers you were interested in are right here!’ So I think that that information just makes a better experience for everybody.
I definitely do turn my cell phone off sometimes when I don’t want Google to know I was there. I can’t think of an example of it.
GREG GIFFORD: [cough cough] Strip club!
MICHAEL KING: If there’s any type of data that I wouldn’t want them to have, there’s definitely situations where I’d turn my phone off and I think that the younger generation doesn’t care about that and over time it’s going to be less and less of our privacy. I mean, when you think about privacy, privacy is like in our federal thing, in our culture. Think about it. When people first moved to the United States, everybody lived together in one-room apartments. It’s only been the last 50 years that people have real privacy, so I think it’s a misleading thing in our culture and eventually it’s going to go back to nobody caring about it.
DAVID BAIN: Great stuff. Well there’s lots of conversation going on in #TWIO at the moment. It’s hard to keep an eye on that as well. Stephanie Ketcher’s welcoming AHalliday to his first #TWIO. Andrew Halliday loves Greg Gifford’s Rogerbot in the background. You’ve got Colin Gray that loves my background apparently, so that’s cool! And you’ve got Greg Gifford that’s just said, BURN! So keep up the chat – the hashtag’s #TWIO.
But in relation to what we were talking about there, Google, Google announced quite recently and Joy pointed the subject out, that from the 28th of this month I think, they are going to start taking down pages – Google My Business pages – that haven’t actually been claimed. So what are your thoughts on this one, Joy?
JOY HAWKINS: Well I’m still kind of waiting for details to find out if these pages are still going to exist to Mapmaker use. I have hated Mapmaker being down for the last few months ‘cause as a little search marketer, that was my biggest area that I would report listings in and I got more success using that than using Google My Business’s call centre in Namibia. So basically just to see if these pages will still exist in Mapmaker and if they do we’re fine. If they don’t, it’s going to make our lives a lot harder but I kind of like these pages existing. It helps me troubleshoot for businesses that have ranking problems. I’m kind of curious to see what’s going to happen with that. But overall I definitely think it’s going to make a difference either way.
DAVID BAIN: Greg, I saw you listening intently there. Are you concerned about the future of Google My Business pages?
GREG GIFFORD: They’re always going to be there. It’s hugely important. It’s just the wording of their announcement was strange and I wonder if we’re all jumping on the wrong bandwagon. It said that Google+ pages associated with unclaimed listings would be pulled down, so does that mean it’s just going to be the listing only and then not the other information? Does that mean the entire listing goes away? Do we only see their info in the knowledge box on the right? Like Joy said, we’ve got to get more details on this because potentially this could be huge because there are still thousands and thousands of businesses out there that haven’t claimed their listings, and if all of a sudden they’re not showing up in the Map Pack or on the map at all, that’s going to be such a huge detriment to the customers finding those businesses. It could really affect a lot of people. So hopefully we can get more details soon so that if that is the case we can start prepping for Armageddon.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, I mean Google are obviously going through lots of changes at the moment. They’ve changed Google+ Photos to just Google Photos. Some subtle changes but they’re preparing obviously, you would think, to make more significant changes in the future. Gianluca, what are your thoughts on what Google were doing regarding Google+ and these business pages?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Well I’m not so much involved in local SEO but I think that somehow Google needs growing up. In general in about Google+, it’s not my preferred social network, if we talk about social networks or communities. But I think I’m one of those that always thought Google+ was a wonderful excuse for Google to retrieve as much information about people, about companies, about brands and so on, so that it could start feeding Knowledge Graph and the knowledge it has. So it’s really a social layer but especially now where it has a new contract with Twitter, I think the social layer of Google+ is not so important anymore as it was. I don’t know. They say it’s a big, big, big question mark over what is going to be the Google+ next feature.
DAVID BAIN: So Mike, can you see Google Local Panda coming around the corner?
MICHAEL KING: I’m going to be honest – I don’t know that much about local. I know enough to do stuff in it but I’m not an expert on local so I can’t really predict what’s going to happen next with it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, no problem. We’ve had lots of great opinion there. But coming up we’re going to be talking about whether live event and tracking is going to be saviour of Twitter advertising, whether enterprises should rely on open source software to power their websites, and why the Apple watch could be a significant content marketing opportunity.
But first of all we’ve got a few shout-outs. So when you sign up to watch This Week in Organic live, you’re encouraged to socially share the show, and in return we’re going to give you a shout-out. So shout-outs this week to Jack Dingle from www.empireict.net. So thank for the share, Jack, and also thanks to Kelvin Newman from www.BrightonSEO.com. Kelvin’s the organiser of BrightonSEO and he tweeted that he’s really excited that we’re going to be hosting a live episode of This Week in Organic at BrightonSEO on 18th September this year. So we think that’s going to be great too so make sure you say hello to us if you’re going to be coming along. And one other shout-out I’ve got here as well, which happened just before the show started, which is Andrew Halliday from www.andrew-halliday.day.co.uk. I know you’ve been tweeting as well and you also asked us whether or not a replay of the show is going to be available. Yes it is. The show’s also available as a video podcast, so you can find that at www.thisweekinorganic.com/itunes. So if you want a shout-out next week, just tell us what you think of the show using the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter and I’ll try and give you a mention.
But moving onto the next topic, which is Twitter maybe doing something clever with its advertising offering. They’re offering live event targeting, helping marketers to pinpoint organisers by following live events. So obviously has Twitter heard about TWIO?
So is live event targeting going to be the saviour of Twitter advertising? ‘Cause Twitter have perhaps been struggling a little bit. Greg, what are your thoughts on that one?
GREG GIFFORD: This scares the heck out of me ‘cause it’s bad enough when you’re at a conference and all of the spambots behind you and all you get is porn tweets for, like, 15 minutes. I think with this sort of a thing, yeah, it could be great for Twitter but it could also be used very quickly and, you know, if somebody’s at some sort of a stall or a conference, you could have companies just jumping on and targeting that group specifically and just plastering ads all over Twitter just for that group. So maybe it’ll be great. I can see from a marketing standpoint it could be really cool to run some ads to a very specially targeted audience but I think it’s not going to be the best user experience for the people that are in the audience.
DAVID BAIN: So Mike, I saw you nodding away there. Does it scare you or is this an excellent opportunity for advertisers?
MICHAEL KING: It doesn’t scare me. It seems like the obvious thing that Twitter should have always offered. Like Greg is saying there, those events that people are tweeting around releases a tonne of activity on Twitter and I would actually prefer some ads rather than spam bots that are just coming after those hashtags and blatantly just slowing them up. Because when you’re running ads instead you can always see a finite number of ads for that space otherwise Twitter understands that that’s not going to be a user experience that people want. So I would prefer ads over the spam that’s coming after those hashtags. And yeah, I just think it’s the obvious thing that Twitter should be doing.
DAVID BAIN: So Mark, could ads then be a better user experience?
MARK ASQUITH: I think Twitter ads are interesting. I’ve experimented with them myself and I’ve always had a bit of a mixed experience with them. They seem to get relatively high engagement if you do the right sort of advertising but the way you can follow them up is relatively difficult. That journey’s not fantastic for people. So I think with the addition of events and the targeting, that could be alleviated, because you’ve got a natural likelihood of following up with something that you’ve seen at an event that matters to you. You know, that sense of community that people and brands could actually bring to the table could be really, really interesting.
Having said that, as the guys have said, the spam potential for it is ridiculous and I think it will be really down to how Twitter polices that. And I think if the brands can do something, if the real people who get there early and do something good with it, it’s up to them to set the tone for it. And from a marketing perspective it could be stunning. If you imagine a music festival, it could be really, really stunning. As you say, if you’re going to get 500,000 porn tweets that’s only good for half an hour and after that you’re bored so…
overall I think it could be good. I think it could be good.
DAVID BAIN: So Joy, I know you focus on organic local reach. Have you dabbled in local paid advertising at all or Twitter advertising or do you prefer just to focus on organic reach?
JOY HAWKINS: We use a lot of pay-per-click advertising on Google mainly, like through Adwords. I haven’t seen Twitter ads work at all for the businesses that I work with. But I don’t work with a lot of retail-type businesses. Our clients tend to be more boring, like lawyers or dentists or insurance agents. So they have less interesting things to tweet about. We find more success using things like Google Adwords and stuff, in addition to SEO.
DAVID BAIN: Greg, have you got boring clients as well?
GREG GIFFORD: Uh no, I wouldn’t call them boring! I’ve got clients that are all over the board. I’ve got some that are just normal, some that are really, really crazy. I would never say boring!
DAVID BAIN: Yeah sure, but in relation to Twitter launching this new targeted advertising service and events, can you see this really taking off or is it going to be something that is just perhaps going to be another advertising activity from Twitter that people try and they go, ‘Meh. Next thing.’
GREG GIFFORD: It kind of depends on how well it works. It seems like a logical progression to go, like Mike said. From an auto dealer perspective, if there’s a big auto show and you can target tweets to people at the auto show and say, ‘Hey, come and check out the new Chevvy at our booth or at our dealership,’ there’s a lot of opportunities. Like we said, because that audience is so specific and you can really drive targeted ads, we would all assume that that’s going to work well but who knows? Maybe people are not going to be receptive to it and then it just tanks. We’re going to have to wait and see how it works.
MARK ASQUITH: David, I think there’s an opportunity for Twitter in there to harness that power of Periscope. Get some real leaders in specific fields and do something, give them something, perhaps for running low-level ads on Periscope. For me, Twitter has got Periscope and it needs to do something big with it because that to me is the real saviour of Twitter and I think if they combine the event-driven advertising with the power of Periscope, that could be something special.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, it could be massive. And of course Meerkat have got Facebook’s backing now so they’re going to start growing very quickly as well. So it really is going to be a battle of the mobile broadcasting units and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out over the next six months or so. Gianluca, you obviously focus a lot on SEO but have you got any opinion on Twitter advertising and how that might evolve in the future?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Well I use Twitter for advertising sometimes, especially when I want to promote something in a very, very targeted way. I think this event opportunity is the natural evolution of Twitter because we all know that Twitter is really strong when a mass of people are watching something on TV is a classic – they always use Twitter to connect. So for events it can be really good. I mean, thinking about Spain, the Twitter base is really, really active. Also between friends. So for things like the many music festivals over here, if a brand is able to create a really, really targeted ads it can eventually have success. If it’s used just basically for sort of a Twitter version of TV ads just because you think it may respond to the people, I don’t know. All the other things, I don’t know if events should really target as we saw sometimes in the past, Twitter sponsoring recent events. I remember a few years ago, when I was with a friend because also I don’t remember it, and they were sponsoring Twitter during Mozcon. And I don’t think anybody was caring about that. So it depends also on the events. If you should invest or not in these kind of Twitter ads.
DAVID BAIN: Right, so it depends on your business but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Certainly, certainly.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, well Stephanie Ketcher tweeting ‘This week In Organic seems a bit randy…I’m no longer the token rowdy Americans!’ Stephanie’s one of the regular viewers here on This Week in Organic. So you go on tweeting away there. We’ll try and read out everything you’re saying.
But moving onto the next subject which is WordPress 4.2.3 was released yesterday, partly as a security update because the previous version could allow users with contributor or author role to compromise the site. So what about WordPress for enterprise? Can enterprises rely on open source software to power their websites? Greg, you help lots of clients with their businesses. Would any of them be quite happy to consider WordPress as their main website?
GREG GIFFORD: Well for my 9-5 I work for a software company that provides websites to car dealers so, you know, they’re going to be using our platforms. The other businesses that I work with are all smaller businesses. I don’t really work with any enterprise guys that would be using WordPress. They’d all have their own kind of custom system. But that being said, I don’t really think that there’s any big drawback to it, as long as they keep up with security updates. Potentially there’s no reason not to do it.
DAVID BAIN: Mike.
MICHAEL KING: So I work with a lot of enterprise sites and a lot of them use WordPress. I love WordPress. I’ve been doing this a long time, like many of us have, and I know the pain of working with those ‘enterprise software’ platforms that you can’t do anything with, that need outside consultants to come in and hack things together because they were just terrible platforms. So using WordPress is just so much better ‘cause there’s a plug-in for everything. Of course you should be reviewing the code of those plug-ins to make sure that they’re not doing anything crazy, but WordPress is fine for enterprise. There’s a lot of ways that you can tighten up the security yourself, so just waiting for new updates to roll out, but I prefer WordPress over everything in most cases.
DAVID BAIN: Great stuff. Okay, I just had a tweet from Andrew Halliday saying that him and Gianluca are wearing the same T-shirt so that’s a…exactly. Pointing to Moz there as well. I thought he was an acquaintance of yours there but it’s just the T-shirt that happens to be the same.
So Mark, you’re obviously a regular user of WordPress. I remember working for a few big clients and using a CMS system that was perhaps ten years’ older and it was just a nightmare to actually change anything at all on it. So there are positives to using WordPress and being able to update it and as long as you keep things up to date then it should be fairly secure. Do you always use WordPress yourself?
MARK ASQUITH: Yeah, from the agency we use WordPress a heck of a lot. I think proprietary CMS systems generally just suck because what you end up with is a code base that started out alright and then gets completely bastardised because the roadmap’s terrible and you end up then with a resentful development and corporate team driving that, which results in a terrible CMS. That’s why we see these CMS systems just turn into these messes.
And I think when you spin that on its head, of course WordPress is going to have vulnerabilities but the beauty of WordPress is because its open source, the people who build it, the automatic guys, they’ve got to run a tight ship because the community will hold them accountable if they don’t. So you’re probably in better hands with WordPress than you are with a proprietary system. So yeah, I think it’s fine. I think it’s a great platform.
DAVID BAIN: It’s just incredible that so many of the world’s websites are using WordPress. I think it was something like 20% the last time I looked. I don’t know the exact figure but it’s certainly a phenomenal number of websites out there. Gianluca, are you quite happy with WordPress? Do you have any concerns that maybe there isn’t a significant competitor?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Well with WordPress, no. I mean, the problem is that so many WordPress sites have the same style and are out of the box, especially if you’re an enterprise company, obviously having your own developers specialising in everything WordPress in order to customise it, to use plug-ins or breaking the system or even to improve the plug-in, becuase for instance, let’s talk about about a plug-in in particular which is WordPress Multilingual, which is a wonderful plug-in but it’s causing some big problems. But overall, no, it’s a really, really solid software. So I mean, as we say in Spain, Others see a net that’s so reliable that’s so acting in the community as workers and thinking about Magento which is something better, but hey.
DAVID BAIN: Joy, do you get involved in looking at CMSs at all or do you actually deal with websites after the CMS is selected so that’s not so much of a concern to you?
JOY HAWKINS: Most of our clients come to us with websites already and a huge majority are going to use WordPress. The thing that I run into with the local business owners is that they haven’t been keeping their plug-ins updated or even the version of WordPress updated so it can get hacked. There are tonnes that have been hacked. We’ve recently had this with a personal trainer and his site’s been hacked now for probably I’d say a year but he doesn’t have the budget to fix it. He doesn’t want to pay a developer to go in there and remove all the stuff that’s bad with his website so he’s got all these pages going out to different pharmaceutical companies and stuff. It’s a giant mess and it’s growing by the day but that’s the biggest problem I run into. They’ve got small budgets and they want to use WordPress ‘cause it’s cheaper to buy a template site, but then they don’t have the budget to actually make sure that they keep their sites securely updated. So it’s a bit of a Catch-22.
DAVID BAIN: Right, okay. I guess a lot of small businesses that end up using WordPress will not know anything about coding at all. They’ll think, ‘Okay, it’s a one-click button to install,’ and they just forget it after that. They have the cheapest shared host possible with 800 other websites on there and they don’t update WordPress, so that’s more likely to lead to problems.
MICHAEL KING: And in those cases I would suggest that those people use something like wpengine. I swear by their platform – it’s awesome. They are very on top of it when it comes to security and updating WordPress for you. They don’t allow you to install certain plug-ins that they know are not secure, or for example when the Yoast plug-in had a security vulnerability, they automatically updated you to the latest one. So things like that, having the right host can kind of cut those problems down for you.
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. That’s great advice. Don’t go for the cheapest host. Go for a host that won’t host so many websites on their server and pay a little bit more for it and have a host that will hopefully actively take interest in the performance of your website as well.
Let’s move onto our last subject, which is according to an article published on the Guardian website yesterday, 1.8% of Guardian app users with an iPhone capable of supporting SmartWatch have viewed a piece of Guardian content on an Apple watch. So that seemed like a pretty significant percentage to me. So are smartwatches actually a content-browsing gimmick or is there a significant publishing opportunity here? Anyone got an i… I can’t even say it.
GREG GIFFORD: I don’t know why anyone would get an Apple watch [showing Apple watch on his wrist on-screen]. It’s kind of a stupid device.
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: [showing wrists with no Apple watches] But if it works for me!
DAVID BAIN: Gianluca, you’ve got the transparent edition. Is that a special one?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: Yes, it’s the uber-light version.
DAVID BAIN: So Greg, did you just jump out there the first day and buy one as soon as you can?
GREG GIFFORD: No, actually I won this at SMXAdvance, which was great, ‘cause I was about to come home and buy one, so it saved me a couple of hundred bucks. My wife thought it was a stupid device and a waste of money and now that I have one, she wants to get one. I’m a giant fanboy of the watch and I think it’s awesome, and as far as consuming content on it, I don’t really think it lends itself that well to fully consuming the content, but for getting a snippet of the content and checking it out and going, ‘Hey, that’s interesting,’ and then I can pop over and check it out on my phone, I think that’s amazingly useful.
DAVID BAIN: But that’s Apple devices all over, isn’t it? That’s what it was like when the iPad was launched. Everyone was going, ‘I’ve got to know why I need this,’ or whether it’s worthwhile to have that and then you’ve got raving fans, ‘I can’t live without this predictor device. It’s the device I didn’t know that I needed.’ So in terms of apps on your watch, Greg, what apps do you find that you are using mostly?
GREG GIFFORD: Well so far the only apps that really run tight on it are the native Apple apps because they didn’t release it to developers, so a lot of apps like Uber and things like that, that are cool and have some functionality are kind of slow because it’s just bluetoothing over and actually running the app on your phone. But I think it’s really awesome when I go…I mean, I fly a lot ‘cause I travel to speak at conferences. I can pull up the boarding pass on my watch and just walk up and scan it and get through security and scan it and get on the plane and not have to have something in my hand. And sure, you could do that with your phone, but you still have your phone in your hand. So now, boom, it’s hands-free and I hardly take my phone out anymore because if I get a phone I can…like right now. Somebody’s calling me right now, you can see. And I can check and see if I want to talk to them or not or send them to voicemail. Or if I get Twitter I can see, ‘Is this something I want to reply to?’ You know, text messages I can reply by dictating to my watch. So you almost don’t use your phone anymore. It’s pretty amazing. And I think now that when the second version comes out and they’re going to allow developers to let stuff run natively on the watch, I think that’s when things are really going to explode and there’s going to be a tonne of stuff that’s really awesome.
DAVID BAIN: But at the moment you have to have your phone and your watch with you all the time, don’t you?
GREG GIFFORD: Yes, I think as far as this watch goes, you’re always going to have to have your phone and your watch. This doesn’t have a SIM card in it so you’ve got to at least have your phone within bluetooth range to be able to run. No, I can go running without the phone and still have it working. You can load some songs onto it and run your bluetooth headphone off of it, but for full functionality you’re going to have to have a phone.
But I think from a local business standpoint, the stuff that you can do with beacons is going to be amazing. It’s going to be like Minority Report. So if somebody has an app for that…you know, if you’ve got the Gap app and you’re walking around in the Gap and they’ve got beacons installed in the store, you can be getting watch alerts when you walk by a pair of jeans that’s on sale. And that sort of experience could be really, really awesome.
DAVID BAIN: We’ve got Joy tweeting, saying that Greg really loves his Apple watch.
DAVID BAIN: Joy, are you jealous? Do you want an Apple watch as well?
JOY HAWKINS: No, I’m definitely not an Apple person. I don’t own an iPhone. I’m Android all the way. So all this Apple watch stuff is kind of just not interesting to me.
DAVID BAIN: So what about another smartphone watch then? Does that appeal to you?
JOY HAWKINS: You know, if there was a good one that came out that used Android I might be interested. I’m kind of waiting for something Android-related that comes out that is as interesting as the Apple watch. It does sound cool. I just couldn’t run one without getting an iPhone and I’m not getting an iPhone.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, and we talked about the Guardian seeing that a lot of its content – or at least a significant percentage of its content – was viewed on the Apple watch. Mark, can you view the Apple watch as a content marketing opportunity in the future, do you think?
MARK ASQUITH: I think yes, but I think it would need to be done in such a way that it capitalised on what Greg said about the snippets of the content. So I’m seeing it in a number of different ways. The first one is kind of upgraded content, so you get watch-specific content. If you’re a blogger or you create video content, a little snippet or a trailer of content would be really interesting.
And I think the second thing is from my sort of podcast perspective I can see very quickly how a watch would be really useful for that, especially if you can bluetooth the audio across. You know, very quickly subscribing to something or very quickly seeing something pop up saying, ‘You’ve got a new episode of Excellence Expected, Do you want to listen now?’ Yes. And the different options. ‘I want to add it to on-the-go,’ ‘I want to add it to this playlist,’ ‘I want to add it to this.’ Very quickly doing that on your wrist could be fantastic.
Long-form content, no. Completely pointless. But I think it does have a place in content marketing, definitely.
DAVID BAIN: Mike, you haven’t got an Apple watch hidden away in your left hand, have you?
MICHAEL KING: No, I have a phone and it works just fine! [laughter]
DAVID BAIN: No intention of getting a watch either.
MICHAEL KING: Absolutely not. I think it’s cool from the Dick Tracey perspective or the Inspector Gadget perspective but it’s completely superfluous. There’s nothing you can do that your phone can’t.
DAVID BAIN: I think it’s a case of ‘watch this space’ because things are evolving so quickly and there may be things that I’m sure all of us have said, ‘What’s the point about…?’ and then a couple of years later have become the biggest raving fans of that item so…
MICHAEL KING: Well I felt that way about the iPad as well but then I was, like, ‘Well I can just read books on here,’ so that’s literally my only use for my iPad. I don’t use it for anything else. So if you tell me that eventually the Apple watch will have something really cool that my phone can’t do, I’ll be like, 1) ‘Why doesn’t my phone do it? ‘Cause it’s capable.’ And 2) If there’s some really cool use case then yeah, maybe I’ll get it. But right now it doesn’t do anything my phone doesn’t do.
DAVID BAIN: Mm. Well I reckon that takes us to the end of this week’s show, just about. So just time for a single takeaway from each of our guests and some sharing of find-out-more details. So let’s start off with Gianluca. A little bit about yourself again and where’s the best place that people can find out about you and what’s your takeaway?
GIANLUCA FIORELLI: I’m Gianluca. I’m an independent SEO. You can find things I write on Moz.com or StateofDigital.com and not on my site because I seriously haven’t got time to write something interesting on my site! And what I can say, I think we can say that nothing is certain in this world of search marketing or internet marketing. We have talked about Panda 4.2 and we’ve decided that we don’t know anything about it, or at least it’s too early to know anything about it. So the only thing I can conclude is we can dream about marketing but at the end we always fail to see what things are really telling us. And maybe we can justify the dream and go for the dream if we are starting to see something pointing to the dream. But just dreaming is not enough.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, brilliant. Thanks for that. Moving onto Greg.
GREG GIFFORD: Follow me on Twitter @GregGifford. You can read stuff that I wrote. I have a monthly column on searchengineland in the local area, so you can go check that out. I don’t actually have anything on www.DealerOn.com ‘cause I actually have only been here for a little over a month but check the www.DealerOn.com blog. I will be writing prolifically, putting up lots of videos there. And as far as takeaways, I think my biggest thing, since I’m really big into local is seeing what happens next Tuesday with that supposed ‘update’ that’s going to pull off all the unverified listings.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely, okay, and moving onto Joy.
JOY HAWKINS: Yeah, I’m Joy Hawkins. You can follow me on Twitter at
@JoyAnneHawkins and I also contribute to blogs at http://imprezziomarketing.com and my own personal blog is at www.joyannehawkins.com. I try to blog a lot about local-related stuff. I think the takeaway is probably the same one as Greg. Really interested. We’re currently waiting for Google to get back to us on some more details about what’s going to happen next Tuesday, so we’ll wait and see what happens as a result of that.
DAVID BAIN: And Mark.
MARK ASQUITH: Thank, David. It’s always a pleasure. My name is Mark Asquith on Twitter at @MrAsquith because all the cool ones were taken and you can find us at http://dmsqd.com and www.excellence-expected.com. Do a Google search for those. My biggest takeaway that relates to everything we’ve spoken about today is you do things properly – don’t try and cut corners. Do things properly, stay genuine and you’ll not go far wrong, really.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. Thanks for that, Mark. And moving onto Mike.
MICHAEL KING: I completely agree with that. In fact, you stole my answer! Anyway, I’m Mike King. I run an agency called http://ipullrank.com. I write for Moz. You can catch me blogging on both Moz and http://ipullrank.com. My biggest takeaway is just stop doing bad marketing. A lot of people, as soon as they hear about something, they’re like, ‘Oh, let’s do as much of it as possible!’ So right now we’re kind of in that area where everybody’s just doing too much content marketing. I want you to just take a step back and make the best content marketing. And just be mindful of all these innovations that are coming out because there are a lot of cool, shiny, new things that are coming about and there are still some things that we as an industry (when I say as an industry, I mean like marketers) are really capitalising on. I think marketing automation is still in its early phases. There’s a lot of really cool things that can be done there. So be mindful of the new opportunities and do better marketing.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, and I’m David Bain, Head of Growth here at AnalyticsSEO.com and you can also catch me interviewing online marketing gurus over at www.DigitalMarketingRadio.com. Now if you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live. So head over to www.thisweekinorganic.com and sign up to watch the next show in real-time. But for those of you watching live and tweeting away, thank you very much. We’re also a video podcast on iTunes, so go directly to the show on iTunes at www.thisweekinorganic.com/itunes.
And remember to continue sharing your thoughts sharing the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter. Until next time, have a fantabulous weekend and thank you all for joining us. Adios. Thank you all for being part of it, everyone.